Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) has successfully concluded the Uganda Coffee Agronomy Training (UCAT) project. The four-year program came to an end in October 2021 and reached over 22,000 smallholder families across four districts in Western Uganda (Kakumiro, Kyenjojo, Kibaale and Kagadi) with knowledge on improved coffee management. The region was selected because many of its coffee farmers had previously abandoned the cash crop to focus on seasonal crops like maize, beans, and bananas which bring quicker returns.
UCAT was launched in August 2018 by Stichting Coffee Agronomy Training, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Enveritas with the aim of improving the livelihoods of 50,000 farmers in Western Uganda. The partners endeavored to help farmers increase their yields by at least 50% through comprehensive agronomy training implemented by HRNS and TechnoServe.
More than 70% of Uganda's working population is employed in agriculture, making the sector extremely important for the nation's economy. Within agriculture, coffee plays a major role as it is the main cash crop and source of income for over 1.7 million producing households and the main contributor (approx. 22%) to export earnings for the government.
However, most coffee producers, being smallholders, face several key challenges which severely limit their agricultural development potential. Among these the most impactful is the lack of proper extension - which results in poor adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), leading to low yields, and consequently, low incomes. Further to this, over the last decade the effects of climate change have become increasingly damaging for coffee production with farmers lacking adaptation skills. This, coupled with poor coffee prices led many farmers to give up on growing coffee for income.
Through a two-year agronomy training program, HRNS’ dedicated field team guided two cohorts of farmers through a step-by-step curriculum on how to improve coffee production systems. Between 2018 and 2020, the first cohort of more than 12,000 farming households in Kakumiro district were taken through the coffee management curriculum in theory and practice. In 2019, the second cohort of 10,000 households in the remaining three districts were enrolled in the program.
The UCAT curriculum promoted agricultural management based on best coffee husbandry practices, including shade tree management, pruning, weeding, soil-water conservation, pest & disease management and plant nutrition. The best available know-how and practices on climate change adaptation were also integrated into the training curriculum.
The farmers who took part in the training were empowered to not only rehabilitate their coffee farms but also expand them on unused land. As a result, their livelihoods were significantly improved.
Today, 80% of the project participants acknowledge an increase in their household income thanks to coffee. Additionally, 91% of the project participants report that coffee is now their leading cash crop.
About Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS)
Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) is an independent foundation working with smallholder families in coffee regions and youth in Germany. We believe that only strong future generations around the globe can shape a livable world.
HRNS is implementing projects in seven countries worldwide focusing on the livelihood situation of smallholder families with a holistic approach in the areas of youth, climate change, family business, organizational development and gender. This contributes to prospering smallholder families, strong future generations, employment and employability, attractive rural communities and landscapes worth living in.
We see youth as drivers of change globally and in Germany. Since its foundation in 2005, HRNS reached more than 330,000 smallholder families in 18 countries. In Germany, HRNS is supporting more then 20 organizations focusing on the integration of migrated youth.